Three years ago, on May 21, 2007, Jezebel.com was born.
In January of that year, Gawker Media Managing Editor Lockhart Steele hired me away from an editing gig at InStyle to create what he and Nick Denton were calling "Girly Gawker". The Jezebel of my imagination – and, eventually, my reality - would serve as an antidote to the superficiality and irrelevance of women's media properties that dominated the late 90s and early aughts. The condescension and cynicism pushed by both magazines and online properties aimed at women was insulting. Their reliance on insecurity-creation, misogyny and unabashed consumerism to "appeal" to female readers had become increasingly offensive. These outlets did not seem to realize (or accept) that young women in the late 20th and early 21st centuries are far more than the sum of their designer handbags and romantic relationships; that their readers did not want, nor need, an endless, ever-repeating loop of beauty tips and sexy sex positions; that there was a vibrant, powerful, and, most importantly, diverse population of women who did not want to be spoken down or marketed to, and whose interests included, but extended far beyond, the superficial traumas of split ends and celebrity breakups. In my most ambitious moments, I saw the site as a battle of the Annas: Holmes vs. Wintour.
What a difference a few years has made.
Thanks to breakout, brand-building investigations of everything from women's magazines, the fashion industry and celebrity Photoshops to menstrual-period dramas, douchebag takedowns and Presidential elections, I've seen our readership catch up to, and, in some cases, surpass, that of older, more established sites in the Gawker Media stable, including Gawker.com, which we have surpassed in monthly pageviews for 9 months straight. In addition, from January to April 2010, the number of unique visitors in the U.S. on Jezebel went up some 35% and April's number of U.S. unique visitors, 1,570,003, was up 72% from the year prior, numbers that, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, are higher than the total paid circulations of Vogue, Allure, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, and Elle. (A whole bunch of beautiful graphs documenting both our traffic and reader/commenter engagement can be found here.)
Traffic, of course, is not everything, and copycat properties with deeper pockets and wider reaches have tried, and, for the most part, failed, to appropriate our unique and formidable mix of pop culture coverage, news analysis, gorgeous photography, cultural criticism, and progressive politics. Jezebel has been the recipient of numerous accolades, awards and laudatory profiles - "Best Group Weblog/Best New Weblog" (Bloggie Awards 2008); "best lady-aimed writing on the Web" (Guardian UK); "one of the few genuinely intelligent repositories of media/marketing/fashion commentary and celebrity deflation" (AdAge); "the sharpest, snarkiest, most popular women's blog around" (Times of London) - and our writers are quoted, and courted, by dozens and dozens of media properties and critics. In fact, in just three short years we have managed to assume an amount of influence, both in the U.S. and abroad, that is both startling and undeniable. We have, quite literally, changed the conversation.
Of course, it goes without saying that none of this would have been possible without the contributions of our fiercely loyal readership - the second graph here shows that the site has more community engagement on its open thread, #groupthink, than the rest of the Gawker Media sites combined - and the most dedicated, talented and spirited group of writers and editors I've ever had the pleasure to work with, some of whom have been around almost since the beginning. It's time to give yourselves, and them - Moe Tkacik, Jennifer Gerson, Dodai Stewart, Tracie Egan Morrissey, Maria Mercedes Lara, Cheryl Campbell, Jenna Sauers, Hortense, Megan Carpentier, Jessica Grose, Sadie Stein, Anna North, Margaret Hartmann, Katy Kelleher, Latoya Peterson, Irin Carmon, and our newest recruit, Jessica Coen - a serious, and sustained round of applause.
Here's to a fantastic fourth year. And thanks, as always, for coming along for the ride.
Related: Jezebel: All The News That's Fit To Print – And The Juicy Stuff That's Not [Independent]
Best Websites: News And Comment [Telegraph]
The World's 50 Most Powerful Blogs [Guardian]
Not On Our Blog You Won't [NY Times]
Let's Hear It for Women Who Suffer No Fools [AdAge]
40 Bloggers Who Really Count [Times of London]